Young stars shine at CECAFA Under-17 Championship thanks to FIFA Forward

  • Tanzania lift CECAFA Under-17 Championship trophy

  • Somalia finished runners-up, a major boost for Somali Football Federation

  • Burundi hosted a successful tournament

A new generation of emerging footballing talent from East and Central Africa was on show this weekend as the CECAFA Under-17 Championship came to an exciting conclusion.

Playing in front of a capacity crowd at the Ngozi Stadium in Burundi, Tanzania edged out Somalia 2-0 in the final to lift the trophy, which saw both sides involved in a high-octane game including several goal-scoring opportunities for both teams.

The final was a particularly symbolic and significant one for the team from Somalia and marked the culmination of three years of continued investment and work developing youth football in the country.

The results of the development work are also a major boost for Somalia as it looks to rebuild following the civil war that has affected the country over recent decades.

Through tailor-made support and investment delivered through FIFA’s Forward Programme, which included investment of around USD 2 million over three years alongside the provision of football equipment, the Somali Football Federation (SFF) has established a dedicated youth league to give children under the age of 15 more opportunities to play football, as well as to provide a range of training courses which aim to help develop and train referees and coaches in the country.

The investment in youth development certainly appears to be paying off with the young Somali team producing several impressive results and upsets along the way to Sunday’s final.

Speaking of FIFA’s development work, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “In line with our overall vision to promote and grow the game, FIFA Forward aims to give tailored support to member associations and make a real impact in driving football development around the globe. As FIFA Secretary General, I would like to extend my congratulations to the teams from Somalia and Tanzania on making the final and their success in developing a new generation of players, as well as to Burundi for hosting such a successful CECAFA Under-17 Championship.”

Indeed, the continued success of the Forward Programme was further underlined with the hosting and delivery of the CECAFA Under-17 Championship, which was supported by FIFA’s zonal funding.

Samoura added: “The success of the CECAFA Under-17 Championship and the participating teams underlines the impact that FIFA’s development work is continuing to make, as well as our continued commitment to support member associations and further grow and develop the game around the world.”

Somali Football Federation President Abdiqani Said Arab also commented on impressive achievements of the young Somali team, saying: “I would like to thank the boys for their high profile performance. We have been able to produce these talented boys with the help of FIFA, who have financed our domestic youth league since 2016. So thanks to FIFA for their assistance.”